So I am on my facebook page, and there is this irritating, ugly, flash-animated banner ad for Maplin, the high-street purveyor of toys for boys and equipment for part-time DJs. The modern-day Tandy for those that can remember that far back. I can’t help noticing that the ad is flashing up a particularly dull array of items – the same items I’d been browsing on the Maplin website a day or two ago. I can’t remember what exactly - a pack of CD-RW, a PC fan or something equally tedious. Coincidence? Not a bit. They had tailored an ad for me, and me alone, based on the stuff I’d been looking at days ago, via cookies or something I suppose. Then pasted it onto my facebook page. Cheeky monkeys, I thought.
So I emailed them. ‘It’s like your shop assistant knocking on my door the day after I visited a Maplins shop, ‘I wrote, ‘and ‘reminding me’ what I had been looking at – in case I wanted to buy. How very annoying.’
And they agreed. They wrote back.
‘We do want to begin by apologising if the advertising found on a third party site was intrusive. This had been scheduled for trial as part of our campaign to raise awareness of Maplin and after a very brief period we found, as your email suggests, it actually had the opposite effect.
Yes in theory it sounded like the ideal opportunity to offer a selection of items to customers whom we new were already interested in but in hindsight we do not want to come across as Big Brother.
I can confirm this trial has already ceased and won’t be re-appearing and would again like to offer our apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused.’
Just because something can be done, doesn’t mean it should be done.